What to do if the brand police attack your fundraising

If your organization has brand police — people in charge of the public expression of your organization’s brand — you may have experienced a special kind of opposition to effective fundraising that starts with a comment like this: “Fundraising revenue is better than ever, but the way we’re doing it isn’t good for our brand.”

Don’t laugh. I’ve heard this from brand police. As far as you and I are concerned. that’s like saying, “I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, but I prefer the way I look when I’m sick.” Some extreme-case brand people don’t think that’s goofy at all.

In their world, “brand” is an important goal by itself. It’s independent of fundraising results. In same extreme cases, it’s even opposed to results. That’s why it’s hard to win arguments with brand police who think that way.

Of course, not all brand police are like that. The good ones are stewarding a tool that can help your fundraising soar. You can tell the good ones by the way they don’t remove specificity and offers from your fundraising.

For the other kind, the plague-of-locusts kind of brand police, here are two ways you can deal effectively with them:

  1. Test their beliefs. Do a mailing or email that’s exactly the way they want it. No matter how crazy it seems. When I’ve done this, I’ve seen the most spectacularly terrible direct response numbers of my career. I think we’d have done better if we’d dumped business reply envelopes into the ocean and waited for people to find them on the beach. Results are persuasive. If not to the brand police themselves, then to your bosses.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The small stuff includes logo, color, font, vision statements. It’s unlikely to accomplish the miracles the Brand police claim for it, but it isn’t going to do much harm either. Defend the essential, but let them play around with those things. It’s harmless.

(This post first appeared on December 16, 2015.)


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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